Lord Napier

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Coat of Arms of the Lord Napier of Merchistoun, Baron Ettrick of Ettrick, Baronet of Nova Scotia.[1]

Lord Napier, of Merchistoun, is a title in the Peerage of Scotland. It was created in 1627 for Sir Archibald Napier, 1st Baronet. Earlier that year, he already held the Napier Baronetcy, of Merchistoun in the County of Midlothian, created in the Baronetage of Nova Scotia. The titles remained united until 1683, when the Baronetcy became dormant. It was revived in the early 19th century and is now held by another branch of the Napier family. Between 1683 and 1686, the Lords of Napier also held the Nicolson Baronetcy, of Carnock in the County of Stirling, and since 1725 the Scott Baronetcy, of Thirlestane in the County of Selkirk, both baronetcies created in the Baronetage of Nova Scotia. The latter one is held till today. Additionally, the tenth Lord was created Baron Ettrick in the Peerage of the United Kingdom in 1872.

Lord Napier is the hereditary Clan Chief of Clan Napier.

The family seat is Thirlestane Castle, near Ettrick, Selkirkshire.


Archibald Napier, son of John Napier, the inventor of logarithms, served as a Gentleman of the Bedchamber to King James VI of Scotland (I of England) and as a Lord of Session. On 2 March 1627 he was created a baronet, of Merchistoun in the County of Midlothian, in the Baronetage of Nova Scotia. A few months later he was raised to the Peerage of Scotland as Lord Napier, of Merchistoun. His grandson, the third Lord, obtained an extension of the patent with limitation to (1) his heirs female and their heirs male and female, and (2) failing which to his sisters and their heirs whatsoever, the female heir being obliged to assume the name and arms of Napier. On his death in 1683 the baronetcy became dormant (it was later revived, see the Napier Baronetcy of Merchistoun) while he was succeeded in the Lordship according to the new patent by his nephew Sir Thomas Nicolson, 4th Baronet, of Carnock, who became the 4th Lord Napier. He was the son of the Hon. Jean, eldest daughter of the second Lord Napier by Sir Thomas Nicolson, 3rd Baronet, of Carnock. Lord Napier died unmarried at an early age and was succeeded in the Baronetcy by his cousin and heir male (see the Baron Carnock for later history of this title) and in the Lordship by his aunt, the fifth Lady Napier. She was the wife of John Brisbane.

Lady Napier was succeeded by her grandson, the sixth Lord. He was the son of Elizabeth, Mistress of Napier, by Sir William Scott, 2nd Baronet, of Thirlestane. In 1725 he also succeeded his father as third Baronet of Thirlestane. (The Scott Baronetcy, of Thirlestane in the County of Selkirk, had been created in the Baronetage of Nova Scotia on 22 August 1666 for Francis Scott). The titles remain united. His grandson, the eighth Lord, sat in the House of Lords as a Scottish Representative Peer from 1796 to 1806 and from 1807 to 1823 and also served as Lord Lieutenant of Selkirkshire from 1819 to 1823. He was succeeded by his son, the ninth Lord. He was a Scottish Representative Peer from 1824 to 1832 and served as Ambassador to China in 1833. His son, the tenth Lord, was a prominent diplomat. In 1872 he was created Baron Ettrick, of Ettrick in the County of Selkirk, in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. This peerage gave him and his descendants an automatic seat in the House of Lords until the passing of the House of Lords Act 1999. As of 2017 the titles are held by his great-great-great-grandson, the fifteenth Lord, who succeeded his father in 2012. He is styled "Lord Napier and Ettrick".

The earliest recorded mention of the name Napier occurred in 1290, in a charter of Maol Choluim I, Earl of Lennox, granting lands at Kilmahew to the Napiers. They are said to have taken their name from a saying by King Alexander II of Scotland to one of the Earls of Lennox, after a battle, that Lennox had na peer (no equal).

Lords Napier (1627); Barons Ettrick (1872)[edit]

The heir apparent is the present holder's son the Hon. William Alexander Hugh Napier, Master of Napier (b. 1996).

Scott baronets, of Thirlestane (1666)[edit]

See also[edit]